Juan Carlos MENJIVAR MORÁN
Birthplace: El Salvador
scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 2002
Painting Method: Mouth painter
I was born in a modest area in El Salvador on September 7, 1988. Since I am the only artist that paints with the mouth here in my country, I receive my scholarship through the main office of the Association in Mexico.
I share with you my story. When I was 5 years old, my country was still going through a revolutionary conflict. After the war ended, the Salvadorian government initiated the process of removing land mines left scattered in the territory. However, some were left buried and were not removed.
At my young age I would go and play in the fields as any child would and, on one of those occasions, I large explosion was heard and I flew in the air. I was unconscious for three days and, when I came to, I felt very sleepy and my whole body ached.
When my mother saw that I opened my eyes, she hugged me and cried of happiness. I wanted to hug her too but, when I tried, I realized I had neither arms nor feet. Doctors had to amputate them to surgically close my wounds. Even at my young age, I realized that my situation was serious.
Later, the process of the painful recuperation started. When finally my wounds healed, I left Bloom Hospital to go home. I saw my siblings running around, writing, playing and I couldn´t!
Months went by and, during one of the hospital visits, my parents were told that the UNICEF and the Shriners Club in El Salvador were interested in my case and wanted to help with my rehabilitation.
I was transferred to the city of Mexico to see orthopaedics specialists with the possibility of getting prosthesis devices. My experience at the hospital was pleasant and everyone was very kind to me. When my emotional disposition was not the best, the doctors as well as the nurses encouraged me to use the prosthesis devices and they would give me hope by convincing me that I could do it.
Every single movement required all my concentration and much effort. After a while, I became familiar with the prostheses and was able to return to El Salvador.
My parents registered me in school and, at the beginning, my classmates would ask me how did I eat, bathe and so forth, and little by little their curiosity dwindled and my life became more or less normal.
When I was 10 years of age I went to visit the doctor at the hospital and I was told that the following day some folks from the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists would visit El Salvador and they wanted to meet me.
The interview was incredible! They explained how I could become a member of the Association and they offered to help. They said that some painters from Mexico could help me to learn to paint with the mouth. This sounded like a miracle!
Two months later I travelled to the city of Mexico for my prostheses´ reconditioning since I was physically growing. I contacted Mr. John Grepe upon my arrival and two days later I had my first approach with painting. My teachers were two wonderful people: Juan Carlos González and Fernando Téllez, both members of the Association.
At the beginning it was difficult to coordinate the head movements, since holding the brush with my teeth was new and strange to me. But with time, I was able to overcome this.
Weeks later when I returned to El Salvador, I brought with me three very valuable things: my new prostheses, my first painting classes and a renewed sense of self-esteem.
Throughout the year 2000 I worked arduously to become familiar with the paint brushes, canvasses and paints. In 2001 I sent my works to the Association in Mexico hoping to become a member and a scholarship grantee. A few months later, I received the acceptance letter. This was an Act of God!
My life changed radically. I can now express my feelings and dreams by means of my paintings.